#BC; #Fentanyl; #IllicitDrugs; #FatalOverdoses
British Columbia, Aug 3 (Canadian-Media): Despite nearly 2,000 people in British Columbia (B.C.) having been prescribed hydromorphone, a synthetic opioid, under the province's safe-supply program, fatal overdoses continued to rise, reaching a historic high in June, with 175 deaths, media reports said.
Fentanyl. Image credit. Facebook page
Physicians in B.C. were given the go-ahead, by March-issued new provincial guidelines to more widely prescribe opiates and other substances to those struggling with addiction.
This action was taken to alleviate growing concerns that the pandemic could disrupt the drug supply, along with a desire to have those at risk self-isolate.
But On the contrary since then, number of fatal overdoses has been on a rise.
Also repeated calls were for the government to do more to confront the opioid crisis.
Some, including B.C.'s premier, John Horgan, and the head of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police have been calling for drug decriminalization while others want to see people legally prescribed the same substances they are addicted to, CBC News reported.
Experts say the drugs available on the streets have become even more deadly in recent months.
In June, 175 people died of overdoses in B.C., which was the highest number in a single month since the province started tracking overdoses. Before that, May set a similarly dismal record with 171 deaths.
According to B.C.'s Coroners Service, in more than 80 percent of deadly overdoses, fentanyl was detected.
Toxicology tests conducted between April and June revealed an increase in the number of deaths where "extreme fentanyl concentrations" were found in the bloodstream.
Due to the disruption of the drug, which comes by way of the U.S. and China, owing to border closures to non-essential traffic has caused drugs to be more toxic with not only higher levels of fentanyl but additional substances being added in.
Drug testers also reported seeing higher concentration of fentanyl as well as more tranquilizers in illicit drugs.
In order to qualify for the medication, people have to be at risk of developing a COVID-19 infection and at high risk of overdosing or going through withdrawal.